Subscribe

Fuel economy for new cars hits an all-time high

Fuel economy has improved drastically in US cars over the past decade, reaching another all-time high in August. The federal government has set new fuel economy goals for the auto industry to reach by 2025. 

  • close
    A man walks past a row of General Motors vehicles at a Chevrolet dealership on Woodward Avenue in Detroit in April. Fuel economy for the US auto industry reached a new high in August, according to figures from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
    Rebecca Cook/Reuters/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

In October 2007, when the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute began tracking the fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S., it stood at 20.1 mpg. As of last month, the figure had reached 25.8 mpg, and it's possible that as newer, more fuel-efficient 2015 models roll out, we could see averages closer to 26.1 by October -- a full six-mpg gain in seven years.

To get such numbers, UMTRI gathers sales stats from automakers, then figures in the combined city/highway fuel economy ratings commonly found on window stickers. Though it's not a 100-percent accurate means of calculation -- the staff have to make some educated guessed about model years, and fuel stats from low-volume brands like Lamborghini are entered in one lump average, regardless of model specifics. Still, it's very interesting data.

For those who might see these figures and worry about the federal government's new fuel economy standards for 2025 and think, "We'll never make it!", take a breath. Those standards are based on corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, which is different from "real world" or "window sticker" fuel economy (which can themselves be very different things, especially when it comes to hybrids). 

The formulas used to calculate CAFE are complicated, taking into account production volume, fleet-wide fuel economy averages, and other factors. (Electric and extended-range vehicles can make the math even fuzzier.) The important thing to know is that those formulas yield numbers significantly higher than "real world" fuel economy.

The good news is that UMTRI has recorded a record-high CAFE figure in August, too: 31.3 mpg. That's substantially higher than the 24.7 mpg recorded in October 2007. Is CAFE climbing fast enough to reach 54.5 mpg by 2025? If it were to maintain its present rate of growth, probably not, but an expected influx of hybrids, electric cars, and other advanced-tech vehicles could cause sharp upticks down the road. We'll keep you posted. 

___________________________________________

Follow The Car Connection on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK